In 1939, the Communist USSR entered into a pact with Nazi Germany containing a secret protocol that divided the eastern part of Europe into German and Soviet interests. While the two signed a non-aggression treaty that should last for ten years, it was only to buy time to prepare their troops to attack the other. Joseph Stalin, the de facto leader of the Soviet Union, was consumed about reforming his army after losing most of his senior officers, who were either detained or executed. Germany initiated the war against Russia in 1941 through Operation Barbarossa, the largest land strike in history. The Germans slaughtered twenty million Russians, including civilians, in an attempt to annihilate what Adolf Hitler referred to as sub-humans. In 1945, the Germans surrendered, and this put the Soviet Union in a strong position in the continent.
On the other hand, it was not only war that helped the communists to take power in East-Central Europe after 1944. Stalin and the communist parties took advantage of political, economic, and social factors to spread their influence across. Stalin believed that he must impose his own social system in each territory he would occupy, and this required a full-scale Soviet military presence throughout East-Central Europe. He did not succeed in his objective overnight, but set out to make certain that he, alone, would determine the political agenda in the region. Stalin also knew that it was the size of the Soviet Union that aided in the defeat of Germany and was the same factor that would protect the region from further attacks.
Some historians say that it was the Fulton speech of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on Iron Curtain that induced the Soviet Union to push for the imposition of communist rule in the East-Central Europe. In 1948, communist parties from all over the region aligned themselves with the Soviet Union on all foreign policy matters, and adhered to the Stalin ideals. Even the dispute between Yugoslavia and the USSR did not cause the other European countries to break away from the Soviet control.
Socialist and capitalist systems marked the nature of social order in East-Central Europe before the Cold War. When Stalin took control of the Third International, a communist organization initiated in Moscow, in 1922, he introduced a foreign policy against those that oppose the Marxists. However, he changed course in the early 1930s by promoting the Popular Front movement which aimed to seek cooperation between the socialist and communist parties. This was perhaps, what Stalin and the communist parties that reigned after 1944 used as basis for their shift in tactics.
One of the key social factors that aided the communists to gain power over the whole of Eastern Europe was camouflaging. The...